A step forward that's hard to talk about

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 8 Jan 2020

A single lawsuit was "brought to trial" three different ways - using the mainland legal system, the Hong Kong legal system and the Macau legal system.

This experiment on Monday in Guangzhou, attended by top legal people from all three places, was to help people spot key differences. Interestingly, all three systems were surprisingly similar and managed to deliver justice.

Participants returned to Hong Kong on Monday night, but didn't say much.

The general belief is that China has no justice system and they just shoot everyone straight off. That's wrong, but if you say so, you get accused of being a "communist puppet."

A worthwhile step, but tricky to discuss in this city at this time.

* * *

The Hong Kong government has put up an online calculator so that anyone can check to see if they qualify for legal aid. The downside of the city's slow but steady wage inflation: every year, fewer of us qualify.

* * *

Many young people arrested for violence, arson or assault during the protests aren't getting legal aid. Their parents are too rich.

Mama and Baba are paying for barristers themselves, and sometimes need to find hundreds of thousands of dollars. Reader Nick Wong said: "The only industry making out of this mayhem seems to be the legal one!"

More irony: China adopted a UK-style legal aid system way back in 2003 and it is (perhaps surprisingly) getting a reasonable satisfaction rate.

* * *

December 31: Me: "As we enter 2020, I call upon the universe to give us a peaceful year."

January 1: Rioters burn down my local Starbucks.

January 2: Australia burns to a cinder.

January 3: "World War III" becomes top-trending term on the Internet.

What a start.

* * *

Reader Mabel Tsang joked that the biggest threat these days could be summed up thus: "Be nice to America or we'll bring democracy to your country."

* * *

Big debate over Hong Kong taxis at the moment. The government is trying to introduce a new class of taxi that costs a bit more but can be easily summoned by a phone app.

Yes, that's right, it's a straight copy of Uber, but shhhhh. Don't say that word.

Transport chief Frank Chan Fan is hoping that since the proposal doesn't include the actual word Uber, taxi drivers will okay it. So far, it's working: drivers' unions are considering it.

* * *

Reader Jimmy Crain was amazed to find a man wearing the jacket with the word "Pervert" in Shanghai. "Well, all right then," Jimmy said. "Thanks for telling us."

* * *

I see some media yesterday happily printed the claims that "five million" people marched in Iran to mourn a dead army general.

The people I feel sorry for are crowd-flow scientists, whose entire field of research has been shredded to confetti, screwed into pulp and thrown onto landfills.

Ever since the Hong Kong marches of June, impossible claims are blithely regurgitated by media everywhere.

I miss journalism.

* * *

The Hong Kong government is copying the business community - it is sending an extra month of money as a "cash bonus" to the 1.4 million people who are on the welfare list. Nice.

I once got a bonus month paycheck the same week I had to pay my tax bill. I could hear God laughing from here.

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